Author Topic: Kegging with less oxygen  (Read 1111 times)

Online kgs

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Kegging with less oxygen
« on: February 26, 2016, 06:03:56 AM »
I ferment 3-gallon batches in 5-gallon food-grade buckets. The more I focus on oxygen, the more I realize that my practice of keeping the fermenter closed until bottling time, unless I have to dry-hop or add ingredients, has contributed to better beer. I am also evaluating whether to keep using buckets, at least this size. But for now, since I have beer to keg in 9 days...

How's this look for a oxygen-limited kegging from a bucket to a keg?

* Attach an MFL swivel flare adapter to the end of a piece of siphon tubing
* Sew dry-hopping hops into large muslin square
* Drop hops into sanitized keg
* Close up keg
* Purge keg with CO2 -- push CO2 in, release PRV -- x 3
* Insert tubing into autosiphon
* Insert autosiphon into siphon-sized hole in bucket lid
* Start siphon into 2-cup pyrex, stop at 2/3 cup mark (to fill tubing and get enough for a reading)
* Attach ball lock disconnect to beer-out post
* Attach swivel nut to ball lock disconnect
* Open PRV
* Fill keg
* Purge headspace
* Set pressure and go away for a few days
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Offline euge

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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2016, 04:52:26 PM »
Some of us install spigots on our buckets and gravity drain into a purged keg. Less fiddly that way.

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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2016, 07:26:01 PM »
Some of us install spigots on our buckets and gravity drain into a purged keg. Less fiddly that way.

Yes, spigots are a good direction. I have a step bit and I'm not afraid to use it! For the rest, I'm contemplating the conversation between "gravity drain less fiddly" (done last time, on a stout, with good results) versus "hoppy beers better if limited access to CO2." For the latter model, the part that feels like a hassle, honestly, is the bucket that has no spigot on it. I prefer to clip the autosiphon to the bucket, but that gets back to that wide surface of beer exposed to air, assuming CO2 will drift away pretty quickly. I was even thinking, gee, what if I have saran wrap or waxed paper ready and drop some on the wort as soon as I pop open that bucket lid.

The rest of it doesn't sound that complex. It's just parts connected to parts. I could also go super-fiddly this time, and gravity feed next time.
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Offline flbrewer

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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2016, 11:24:57 PM »
If you haven't already checked them out...Speidel fermenters have varying sizes and come with a nice valve to siphon from.

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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2016, 01:04:37 PM »
Some of us install spigots on our buckets and gravity drain into a purged keg. Less fiddly that way.

Retracing this thought: what spigot do you use? Do you add any sealant or have you had good luck getting the spigot to seal leak-free?
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Offline euge

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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2016, 02:11:32 PM »
Some of us install spigots on our buckets and gravity drain into a purged keg. Less fiddly that way.

Retracing this thought: what spigot do you use? Do you add any sealant or have you had good luck getting the spigot to seal leak-free?

This one or very similar: http://www.northernbrewer.com/fermenter-s-favorite-bottling-spigot-for-bottling-bucket

Good and finger tight don't overtighten or it'll eventually break where it mates with the bulkhead. It'll dribble if you don't tighten enough though, but that's to be expected.

Originally, there was only one gasket and it was used on the outside. Now they're coming with two and one goes interior-side. I think the second gasket makes tightening enough a bit trickier but I'm adapting...  ;)

The idea is you can remove when cleaning and sanitizing. Works extremely well but they do wear out eventually.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Laws are spider-webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones. -Anacharsis

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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2016, 02:43:26 PM »
Some of us install spigots on our buckets and gravity drain into a purged keg. Less fiddly that way.

Retracing this thought: what spigot do you use? Do you add any sealant or have you had good luck getting the spigot to seal leak-free?

This one or very similar: http://www.northernbrewer.com/fermenter-s-favorite-bottling-spigot-for-bottling-bucket

Good and finger tight don't overtighten or it'll eventually break where it mates with the bulkhead. It'll dribble if you don't tighten enough though, but that's to be expected.

Originally, there was only one gasket and it was used on the outside. Now they're coming with two and one goes interior-side. I think the second gasket makes tightening enough a bit trickier but I'm adapting...  ;)

The idea is you can remove when cleaning and sanitizing. Works extremely well but they do wear out eventually.

Thanks. I once had a spigot fail catastrophically during bottling, which was frustrating, plus have had spigots and ball valves dribble now and then, so I'm always looking for better spigots or at least better "spigot method."

But... ok... gravity-draining into a purged keg. Purging unpressurized then? Connecting the QD to the beer-out side so the CO2 flows upward from the pickup tube? Then lickety-split draining the fermenter into the keg? I wish I could see CO2.

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Offline euge

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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2016, 02:58:49 PM »
I've purged both ways. With the lid off I'd cram the gas QD onto the out post and give it a good blast. I no longer do this. ??? I'm sure using the proper QD would make it easier!

Then drop a hose from the spigot into the bottom of the keg. (It never has occurred to me to purge that line until this thread came up.) Fill from the bottom and the layer of co2 rises pushing the lighter o2 all out by the time the keg is filled.

Otherwise I just pressurize and vent the keg normally 3-4 times, take the lid off then fill as above. I may come up with using a line from the spigot to a liquid QD and fill through the diptube. Sounds pretty attractive actually!
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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2016, 03:40:02 PM »
I ferment 3-gallon batches in 5-gallon food-grade buckets.

I know it doesn't help for this batch, but have you considered fermenting in 5 gallon corny kegs?  Then you could do closed transfers under pressure to your serving keg.
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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2016, 04:03:54 PM »
I ferment 3-gallon batches in 5-gallon food-grade buckets.

I know it doesn't help for this batch, but have you considered fermenting in 5 gallon corny kegs?  Then you could do closed transfers under pressure to your serving keg.

Interesting, I was wondering about the rationale of fermenting in kegs. Thanks for the idea! It's one of those things that would be easy to try if a 5-gallon keg popped on my radar. Or if I go slightly smaller on batch size I could try it in one of my 3-gallon kegs.

For the next batch, I'm going to move to a spigot on a bucket. Take out the airlock and stuff a paper towel in the hole, and it will be a pseudo-closed transfer. :-)

This conversation is timely because I'm buying a gas manifold and I see it should have a valve dedicated to a  utility line for other uses, such as purging.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 04:06:10 PM by kgs »
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Offline juggabrew303

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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2016, 04:44:33 PM »
I brewed 3 gal batches the last two years.  I used my corny as fermentor and never had any issues...besides putting my blow off tube on the out port once by accident.  I could then transfer keg to keg without introducing air. TIP: I cut 1" off the dip tube.


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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2016, 05:07:35 PM »
I'd say your procedure looks pretty good. Three pressurize/depressurize cycles won't get you to the oxygen levels of a commercial packaging line, but that may not be necessary for our purposes. I prefer to fill the keg completely with sanitizer, then push the sanitizer out with CO2, but if you need to dry-hop in the keg that wouldn't work. I also vent the keg using an airlock on the gas post, so that O2 can't sneak in through the PRV.
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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2016, 05:21:27 PM »
I'd say your procedure looks pretty good. Three pressurize/depressurize cycles won't get you to the oxygen levels of a commercial packaging line, but that may not be necessary for our purposes. I prefer to fill the keg completely with sanitizer, then push the sanitizer out with CO2, but if you need to dry-hop in the keg that wouldn't work. I also vent the keg using an airlock on the gas post, so that O2 can't sneak in through the PRV.

Yeah, even using a "reasonable" degree of oxygen protection will be a pretty big move up for my setup, so if I'm happy with the results, there I go. I don't know that I need to dry-hop in the keg -- it was just something I was thinking of doing because kegging now makes that possible. But obviously makes other things not possible, like pushing out sanitizer.

Whenever I see instructions for pushing out sanitizer, they almost always say to completely fill the keg. The extra water is not a big deal, but is there some reason this wouldn't work with, say, a gallon of sanitizer?
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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2016, 08:06:51 PM »
Whenever I see instructions for pushing out sanitizer, they almost always say to completely fill the keg. The extra water is not a big deal, but is there some reason this wouldn't work with, say, a gallon of sanitizer?

It would work as far as sanitizing the keg, but you'd still need to do the purge cycles to reduce O2. The idea is that sanitizer is cheaper than CO2.

If you want to be really OCD about it, take the aerator off the faucet before mixing the sanitizer.
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Re: Kegging with less oxygen
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2016, 09:22:57 PM »
Ha! No, just trying to move the needle a bit. I see what you mean, I think. In a way you're answering the question "how can we measure an invisible gas."
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